Analysis: Port growth could create hundreds of jobs, attract millions in investment
The expansion of port services in Vicksburg — whether through expansion at the current port or a new port working in combination with existing facilities — has the potential to bring in millions of dollars in new investment and create hundreds of new jobs, a report released Monday said.
The Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership announced Monday the highlights of a Port Market Analysis completed by Seabury Maritime LLC, a company hired last fall by the city of Vicksburg to study the economic potential for future port expansion.
The report, which is more than 100 pages in length, was first submitted to an oversight committee and details the methodology the firm used to identify six top market opportunities that “could account for at least 600 jobs and investments in the hundreds of millions of dollars if fully realized.”
The top six market opportunities identified in the report include scrap iron imports from Mexico, containerized soybean exports, wood-chip exports in containers, resin exports, steel (mini) mill attraction and the imports of spruce logs.
“This is a first but very important step toward making sure we can take advantage of every opportunity that is out there to bring more port-related jobs to the area,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “We now know that there is a market. If we can develop our port infrastructure, that will attract exactly what we’re looking for.”
The opportunities are categorized in the report as short-term, mid-term, and long-term opportunities.
The report concludes by stating that for the Vicksburg area to access these market opportunities, it needs to undertake a number of key investments to create a Dual-Site Multi-Modal Port Environment that allows for the region to be more competitive.
The next steps presented in the report include the development of adequate due diligence and engineering work to determine the feasibility of developing a Dual-Site Multi-Modal Port Environment, where newly-developed port infrastructure in the area works in tandem with the existing port.
The results of the due diligence and engineering work would then become the basis for a master plan to guide the development of the final project.
The local oversight committee was formed by Warren County Board of Supervisors President Dr. Jeff Holland, Patrick Smith, Austin Golding, Tray Hardaway and Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Pablo Diaz.
The committee helped select the engineering and market analysis consultants that would lead the community in this first step in the planning process.
“In looking to the future of our community’s port facilities, it was essential that we understand the potential for growth in the markets and customers the port could serve,” Holland said. “This report has provided us with a firm understanding of that future potential, and in doing so has indicated that we have significant untapped economic development opportunities available to our community.
“The Port Market Analysis is the first step in a long-term planning process being undertaken by the City of Vicksburg, Warren County and the Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership, with the objective to increase capacity of river-related infrastructure to attract more port-related companies to the region.”
Holland was appointed to the oversight committee by the city of Vicksburg before being elected to represent District 4 on the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
The analysis and other work thus far on the port project is being funded by the city of Vicksburg through an allocation from the State of Mississippi Transportation Infrastructure Bill of the 2018 First Extraordinary session.
“I commend the oversight committee for helping us finalize this study and we look forward to continuing this process so that sooner than later we can do what is needed to reap the benefits of this project — jobs, investments, and a growing economy for Vicksburg and Warren County,” Flaggs said.